Sea Birding Pelagic Trips South Africa, Cape Town Pelagics


  Trip Reports - Trip report for 6 August 2006




- 2 Humpbacked Whales

Although a northwester threatened the trip, the day turned out fine and the Obsession left a little after 8am, with guides Ross Wanless, Martin Benadie, Mike Crewe and Sue Jackson on board. Almost immediately, we encountered two Humpbacked Whales just outside Simon's Town. Unexpectedly close inshore, they gave us very good views. We found a massive group of Cape Gannets, Cape Cormorants, Sooty Shearwaters that were all diving just off the Point, with 3 or 4 Subantarctic Skuas in attendance.

We found a single trawler at 10 am, and saw Pintado Petrels for the first time as we approached it, with activity of all species increasing. Surprisingly few Wilson's Storm-Petrels were around. After half an hour or so, a juvenile Grey-headed Albatross was spotted, which caused quite a stir. This bird was definitely the trip highlight and had everyone excited, landing on the water close to the boat and dipping its head underwater with the slightly goofy look typical of young albatrosses. When they heard the winches, several thousand Cape Gannets, White-chinned Petrels, Sooty Shearwaters, Pintado Petrels, and Black-browed and Shy Albatrosses all got up and started feeding behind the boat, joined by the odd Kelp/Cape Gull. The young Grey-headed Albatross spent some time worrying a moribund eel-fish at the surface. Better views of this rare bird would simply not have been possible. We saw a single Yellow-nosed Albatross, bringing the total number of albatross species up to four.

We waited behind the trawler for the net to come up, then followed it for about 45 minutes as processing began on board while it steamed off for another fishing ground. On our return trip, we stopped off for the Bank Cormorant colony at Partridge Point for good views of these birds. We finished the trip in perfect weather, bringing back to land memories of the dramatic spectacle of thousands of seabirds feeding behind a trawler.



  Pelagic birds seen and approximate numbers



Shy Albatross 100
Black-browed Albatross 200 +
Yellow-nosed Albatross juv 1
Southern Giant Petrel 2
White-chinned Petrel 800
Pintado Petrel 500
Sooty Shearwater 600
Wilson's Storm Petrel 3
Subantarctic Skua 20

  Coastal species seen



African Penguin
Cape Gannet
Kelp Gull
Hartlaub's Gull
Swift Tern
White breasted Cormorant
Bank Cormorant
Cape Cormorant
African Black Oystercatcher


Thanks to Dave for skippering and finding the trawler and to Sue, Mike, and Martin for assisting with the guiding and to Sue for this report.